Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Hypothesis About the Corolla

I have a theory.

After logging enough miles, you start to notice certain things. You might disagree with me. And as soon as you start looking into this particular observation, you will agree with me, and then you wont be able to stop seeing it.

So here is my theory- While Toyota produced hundreds of thousands of Toyota Corollas from 1993-2009, in a variety of colors, I am pretty sure at least 95% of those cars sold were some form of Champagne color. I have no math or statistics to back this up. Sure, the called it things like desert sand metallic, cashmere beige, mica, Sandrift and pebble beige, but they were all really the same color, which can be generally classified as a beige / tan champagne color. I think its followed by white and black, but the sheer number of tan cars out there is startling.

Odds are you or one of your friends owned one of these Corolla generations. Odds are it was one of these colors. My apologies in advance,  because now you won’t be able to stop noticing this.


[caption id="attachment_374" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A look at champagne corollas through the ages"][/caption]


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Commuters Vs. Travelers, Round 2

Wow, what a ride last night -  All lanes closed on the Bruckner backs up 95 North / CBX East for miles. Took me an hour to make it to the bridge. But I digress.

It's late May. Its getting warm. Three months of summer and significantly less traffic are just within our grasp, we just have one major hurdle to cross - Memorial Day weekend. Starting Thursday, the roads are going to be a free-for-all of minivans and weekenders blindly following their GPS devices. Get ready for a lot of road rage, accidents and accordion traffic jams that erupt without purpose as the amount of traveler’s increases, once again flooding the roads with discourteous drivers who don’t know the roads and stress behind the wheel.

I can’t wait for the summer, it typically takes me under an hour to get to work, and even the CBX rarely comes to a complete stop. Summer afternoons on the other hand, especially Thursdays and Fridays are another story.

But here are some tips to help your commute this week: Stay strong, after this, its smooth sailing.

-          Most GPS devices tell people to take the following routes -  use these alternates:

  • 95/80 -use 9/46

  • Whitestone - use the Throgs neck

  • LIE - instead take Northern State / GCP

  • Cross Island - use the Clearview

  • GWB upper level - use the lower level, although sometimes the thought of driving with trucks scares travelers to the lower level.

-          NJ Turnpike Express – It sounds fast, so people take it. Use the local.

-          Go for the inner EZ pass lanes  - weekend stragglers dive into the cash lane at the last minute

-          If you take time off, drive in the morning, never in the afternoon

-          Avoid the Belt Parkway on any afternoon

-          Always watch out for last minute, three lane exit dives at high speed

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I was on my way to the inbound GWB the other day, so I course I was sitting in traffic.  I heard a motorcycle approaching, and a sharp *CRACK*rose my right. I turned to see the prick nail my passenger side mirror.

C’mon, seriously? Lane sharing isn’t even legal in NY, so if you are going to do it, at least learn how to ride a bike, and try not to hit a stopped car.

So the damage wasn’t as bad as I thought – only the glass portion of the mirror is shattered, and the mirror housing is fine, or it will just buff out. But here’s the problem. I can’t find this part anywhere. Its one of those auto-dimming, defroster mirrors (great invention, BTW), and no one sells just the glass. So here I am now, and my car has a huge blemish right before I tape my segment for metro NY commuting.

Here’s a picture. Don’t ask why a photographer is using his blackberry’s camera so much.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thank you New Jersey and your massive deficits

Gas is expensive. In Long Island, I see it hovering about $4.28, with daily increases (never mind the fact the price of crude is down, but that’s another story). NJ legislators continue to debate increasing the tax as a way to provide additional funding, but the measure has yet to pass.

So what’s a person who commutes all the way to the Garden State to do? Get gas on the NJ turnpike of course, where it averages .40 cents cheaper per gallon. Due to a series of laws and lax taxes, this is the best deal on gas in the tri state area, and possibly the nation. Here’s some interesting facts about NJ and why their gas prices are among the lowest in the nation.

  • Turnpike gas stations can only change their prices, (up or down) once a week on a Friday. So fill up Thursday, in the morning to avoid the lines.

  • Gas is so cheap in Jersey for a few reasons. Mostly because of the lack of taxes associated with Gas. New Yorkers pay about 25 cents on the gallon plus 4%, whereas NJ residents get off with about 10 cents. These figures are adjusted annually.

  • Everything is full serve - Since the law was passed in 1949, it’s illegal to pump your own gas because, according to the law, such a flammable, dangerous liquid should only be distributed by trained personnel.  Only NJ or Oregon has this law. And the town of Huntington in Long Island, which I still have yet to figure out why.

  • Off the turnpike, it is illegal in NJ for a gas station to raise prices more than once a day.

  • There are only Sunoco’s on the NJ turnpike, so don’t hold out till you see somewhere to fill up using your Exxon fleet card.

  •  The cost of gas at a turnpike service station cannot be more than 3 cents above that average price in a local area. This is regulated by the Turnpike authority.

  • The hoses really are long enough to fit to the other side of your car, assuming you don’t have a huge SUV. So skip the long line.

[caption id="attachment_362" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="sign at the Vince Lombardi service area on I-95 / NJ Turnpike"][/caption]

Monday, May 9, 2011

Where dreams go to die – The NYS DMV.

The jig is up. My license is about to expire, and I need to go renew it quick. I didn’t have time to go the eye doctor and send in the eye exam form, so I have to physically go to the DMV office. Why do I need an eye exam? I can’t see three feet in front of my face without my contacts, I don’t need an eye test to tell me that. This place was hard to find as well. The signage was terrible, and it was hidden in the corner of a strip mall inside a building. Why are they are trying to keep this place a secret.

After waiting in line #1 to get the form I need to fill out, they send me to line #2 to get my photo taken and pick up this numbered ticket.

I spend about 30 minutes in line #2. I make it to the counter, and they give me an eye test. Read line 7 they say. The letters are huge.  If this is the minimum requirement, I’m scared.

#B791. Its gonna be a long wait. There is also a line #3, but no one really seems to know what that line is for. Some people get on that line, and I never see them again.

*Now Serving B680. This is going to be a while.

I don’t think there is any place in a world a NY state driver fears more than the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s a mess of seemingly inefficient processes weighed down by an over excess of red tape and bureaucracy. Time seems to stand still while waiting.

*Now Serving B692.

Oh look, they bought a gaggle of people to the front of the line and WTF, ARE THEY ACTUALLY GIVING THESE PEOPLE LICENSES TO DRIVE?!?! The group they just escorted to the front of the line have probable mental issues and most likely shouldn’t be operating a motor vehicle. I suggest this because they have an obvious rage complex because they are screaming at the person behind the counter, accusing them of letting their license expire. In a way, I feel sorry for the DMV clerks, they must have to deal with some real winners.

*Now Serving  B700

Look, I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, but I am pretty sure the applicant in question is a hobo, as she is dressed in rags, and I can smell them from about 30 feet away.  The yelling continues. They tell the group they are going to have to go see a manager.  Why do you need a driver’s license if you travel by stowing away in railroad boxcars?

*Now Serving B712

The silence is broken by Michael Jackson’s “Beat it”. The “Bad”, followed by “smooth Criminal”. It’s then I realize that they are playing MJ’s greatest hit CD on loop. It’s about now I start thinking I am involved in some sort of social experiment or reality TV show to see who cracks first.  They’ll never take me alive.

*Now serving B720

Rage ensues. The hobo busts out a very large binder filled with legal looking documents and continues to berate the woman behind the counter. I bet the people in line behind them is really glad the docent bought them to the front of the line.

*Now Serving B753

It’s been a while since I have been to the DMV last. About two years ago I went to go get my motorcycle license, and it’s a stark difference from today’s scene. Now they have advertisements blaring from LCD screens above the various counters. Yes, ads in the DMV.  But I guess NY state has to make up their massive deficit holes somewhere. You would think auto insurance companies would be all over this, and not local dress and formalwear shops.

*Now Serving B789

Almost there…. This is about the point that, like jury duty, I hopefully wont have to come back here for many years to come. It’s this glimmer of hope that’s keeping me going.

*Now Serving B791.

Finally. Two hours after I arrived, Salvation is close at hand. The guy behind the counter  doesn’t say a word; takes my form, and prints out a temporary card. I check it over. Trust me, always do this. They got my first license wrong and it was a nightmare that haunted me for years and took forever to correct. The only words the guy says is “eighty eight dollars”. Seriously? When did renewing a license become so expensive? When I had a Florida license, I payed $26 online, and didn’t have to sit through any of this. Fun fact, you can actually make appointments in Florida DMV. NY state, you listening?

The entire transaction takes less than 45 seconds, and I’m done.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Mattress Paradox

Certain things are inevitable in this world. The sun will rise. Gravity will always be a law. The MTA and Port Authority will always raise tolls.

But there is another certainty in this world I want to bring attention to in this world which many people may not be aware of. As you drive down the road, take special note of the guy with a mattress strapped to the top of their car. Pass them quickly and to the windward side, because chances are that baby is flying off, and when it goes, its going to bring a world of hurt to all those behind it.
I don't know why its so difficult to effectively tie down a mattress, but it seems that it is physically impossibly for people to keep them on top of cars, or travel at a reasonable speed when transporting said mattress.

Take this advice and remember it, you will thank me one day.